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ISE 2020: MD Mike Blackman on the show’s widening appeal and what it offers KNX professionals

Mike Blackman 2020

Mike Blackman is the Managing Director of Integrated Systems Events. In this Q & A, Mike talks about ISE 2020, and why the show has become the ‘must attend’ event for AV and KNX industry professionals, as well as users.

Q: ISE has enjoyed year-on-year growth since it began. Will ISE 2020 be the biggest and best yet?

A: Unquestionably. At the last ISE, we had over 81,000 visitors – and we expect more in 2020. In 2019, we had 56,100sqm of net exhibit space, and that will increase in 2020 by over 800sqm.

Two important changes for this year are that the Hall 5 extension has been made larger and permanent, while Hall 14 will be the home of a new Innovation Zone – a specially designed area for companies that are new to ISE to showcase their technology. The ISE Main Stage theatre will relocate to Hall 14, and will offer a full programme of free-to-attend thought-leadership and best practice sessions from ISE, AVIXA, CEDIA and AV Magazine.

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ISE 2020 will be bigger than ever.

Q: What’s new in the way of conferences and professional development?

A: All the conferences held at ISE 2019 will be back in 2020 – covering smart buildings, XR (virtual reality, mixed reality, augmented reality), digital signage, digital cinema, hospitality, visitor attractions, stadiums and pro audio, plus AVIXA’s two ‘What’s Next…’ conferences, focusing on enterprise and higher education. In addition, we have a couple of new ones – the Control Rooms Summit and the CEDIA Design & Build Conference. Like in 2019, many of the conferences will be held at the Hotel Okura, near the RAI, which proved very popular with our attendees.

As well as its conferences, AVIXA is running 20-minute FlashTrack sessions on its stand.

CEDIA has a four-day programme of training sessions, beginning on the Monday with a workshop on cybersecurity. Any of your readers working in the residential sector will probably be interested to attend the CEDIA session Integrating AV with KNX. This takes place on Thursday 13 February between 11:30 and 13:00. Led by Mark Warburton of KNX distributor Ivory Egg, the session will explain how KNX can be integrated with all the leading control systems, including AMX, Control4 Crestron, RTI and Savant. Early booking is advised.

Additionally, the association is hosting free 20-minute CEDIA Talks on its stand.

Q: What are the challenges presented by the event having become so large?

A: One of the biggest is ensuring that visitors can easily locate what they’re looking for – and relevant exhibitors can easily be found. One of the ways we’ve addressed that is with the creation of six Technology Zones – for audio and live events, digital signage and DooH, education, residential, smart buildings and unified communication. The Technology Zones mean that visitors can quickly locate the part of the show where they’ll find the technology and product trends that are most relevant to their interests. For instance, those interested in KNX will find most of the relevant companies in the Residential (Hall 5, extending into Hall 1) and Smart Building (Hall 9) Technology Zones. In fact the KNX Association stand (9-F120), covering 168m2, will be located right at the entrance of Hall 9 – a highly-appropriate entry point to the Smart Building Technology Zone.

More generally, we put a lot into wayfinding technology at the show, through digital signage, interactive kiosks with exhibitor list and floor plan, and the ISE app – as well as ‘old school’ methods including a printed fold-out floor plan and staffed information points.

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For easy navigation, the show will comprise six technology zones.

Q: How has the average ISE visitor profile changed over the years?

A: Back when we first started, our audience almost exclusively comprised systems integrators and other AV channel professionals. Increasingly, though, the show has become a destination for end-users; our exhibitors want to engage directly with them, as well as meeting their existing and prospective channel partners. Today, ISE has become as much of a ‘must attend’ event for end-users as it is for the channel.

Q: How have you made ISE more attractive to end-users?

A: We’ve added substantially to our conference programme over the years, because end-users have told us they get enormous value not just from the opportunity to talk directly to manufacturers and to find out about the products and technologies that will shape their companies’ AV strategy – but also to network and to learn from industry experts and their peers.

Our Special Interest Group programme is designed to bring attendees from specific key vertical market sectors to ISE, helping end-user technology buyers to meet technology vendors and solution partners. They’re the result of formal agreements between ISE and a variety of associations, media partners, companies and consultants, and they’re tailored to meet the information needs of the visiting executives with planned stand visits, presentations, networking events and dinners.

Q: What about the relationship between ISE and KNX?

A: We’re delighted to have KNX as our Presenting Show Partner once again at ISE 2020. This agreement significantly raises KNX’s profile among ISE attendees, helping to bring its message to the widest possible audience and enabling them to find out how KNX can help them in their work, whether they are involved in AV integration, smart building or smart home integration. It’s also a boost to the show’s prestige to be partnering with such an important organisation within the AV integration world.

Q: What else should KNX professionals look for at the show?

A: Don’t forget the Smart Building Conference at the Hotel Okura. This is aimed at AV professionals who are working, or want to get involved, in the smart building market. This year the conference is focusing on three technology areas that are set to have a powerful impact within smart building environments: ‘5G, IoT and the Intelligent Edge’.

The conference always takes place on the day before the start of the ISE exhibition, but this year we have extended it to the Tuesday morning by adding an optional half-day Smart Workplaces track.

KNX is a key participant at the Smart Building Conference, and will be hosting one of four roundtable sessions taking place on the Monday afternoon.

Q: You mentioned sessions by AVIXA and CEDIA. What is their role with ISE?

A: ISE is owned by AVIXA and CEDIA, two trade associations with a focus on professional development – so education and training have always been an important part of the show. Another priority for both associations is reaching out beyond the industry, to other stakeholders within AV projects. Establishing and awarding professional qualifications plays an important part in establishing the expertise of the industry as a whole, as well as demonstrating the competency of the individuals who work in it. Indeed CEDIA is actively partnering with the KNX Association to bring valuable benefits to members of both organisations, and runs an official KNX Training Centre at its UK headquarters in St Neots.

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Education and training are an important part of the show.

Q: More generally, what trends in technology should visitors to ISE 2020 look for?

A: I think we’ll start to see AI permeate a number of AV applications. It’s already being used in digital signage, but many see opportunities for it in other customer-centric applications, such as hospitality. AI is also being used to improve the quality of meetings and collaboration.

ISE 2020 will, I think, provide evidence of the rise of LED-based screens. They have advantages over LCD – and prices are dropping rapidly. It will also be interesting to see the progress that OLED technology has made. Visitors should look out too for new generations of application-specific projectors.

On audio, object-based sound will be heard everywhere.

Q: With the move to Barcelona in 2021, ISE 2020 will be the last one at the RAI. How do you feel about that?

A: The RAI has been a great venue for us for over a decade now, so of course, there’s some sadness. I’ll leave with many fond memories of our time there – it has served us very well, and has been part of our rapid growth to become the world’s largest professional audiovisual event. The downside is that we’ve become too big for a convention centre even of the RAI’s size and facilities.

However, I’m also excited. The Fira is a fantastic facility and a much larger space, located in a very attractive destination. The move isn’t simply about growing the numbers: it’s about delivering a better-quality experience to our exhibitors and visitors.

Q: Where should KNX professionals go to find out more, and are there any special offers?

A: Our main website provides a wealth of helpful information including travel and accommodation services with discounted rates and free shuttle busses from the airport and the main hotels.

For the main show, register here and use the special KNXtoday reader code of 418309 to get free entry.

For the Smart Building Conference, register here.

We look forward to welcoming you!

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JUNG area / line coupler

JUNG area / line coupler
The JUNG area / line coupler connects two KNX lines while retaining electrical isolation. Across publicly accessible areas, such as corridors ...